Next Mars Rover Faces Race Against Time, Funding

NASA’s next Mars rover faces looming technical, financial and scheduling challenges before its planned launch in November, according to an internal audit released June 8.

The rover, called Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) and nicknamed Curiosity, has already seen several launch delays and last-minute infusions of funds. But unresolved technical issues, incomplete software and chronic underestimation of costs may push the price tag up by another $44 million.

“Based on our calculations, unless managers request additional money the Project may have insufficient funds to complete all currently identified tasks prior to launch and may therefore be forced to reduce capabilities, delay the launch for 2 years, or cancel the mission,” wrote NASA Inspector General Paul Martin in the report.



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